"The Life You Live"

Leonard walked out to the balcony carrying a bottle of brandy and  two glasses. He put them on the table and sat down on the other chair. Looking at me, he pulled out a pack of Luckies from his breast pocket and said:

“You don’t mind if I smoke, do you?”

“Actually, can I have one?”

“I thought you city kids didn’t smoke. You know, with those anti-smoking campaigns and all,” he said extending a cigarette to me.

“I’ll smoke one, under the circumstances.”

“Don’t you worry,” he said, looking at the glasses as he poured the brandy. “We’ll get your car fixed first thing in the morning. You want ice? I can get you some ice if you want.”

“No, this is fine,” I said, picking up my glass.

His balcony was facing west. The last light was going out and I could see the moon just hanging there. The air was getting colder and a breeze coming from the woods brought with it a strong scent of pines.

“Here’s to tomorrow, kid,” said Leonard, raising his glass to me. “We’ll get some breakfast, get your car fixed, and you’ll be good to go. You’ll sleep here tonight of course. That couch has seen better days, but it’s still comfy.”

I clinked his glass softly and took a sip. I felt the brandy burn and warm my chest. It felt good, looking at the darkening sky. Leonard lit his cigarette and handed me the lighter.

“I can’t thank you enough. You’ve gone way out of your way.”

“Don’t mention it, kid. I wasn’t about to leave you at the side of the road. Wolves might’ve gotten you,” he said and laughed looking at me. I smiled, and lighted my cigarette. The smoke felt good in my lungs, like putting on thick socks on a cold evening.

“Leonard,” I said, “don’t you ever get bored living in this small village? Don’t you ever crave something more? Something bigger?”

“Look at this, kid,” he said looking outside. He took a deep drag from his cigarette. “Is your big city anything like this? Is it bigger than this? I’ve never been, so you tell me.”

“It’s different here. It’s beautiful. But there are no people.”

“People are overrated,” he said and he laughed again. “I’m messing with you. You don’t need all those people. Those city people living like that, always running to catch their train, too busy to look around them and feel where they are. I got everything I need here, and I get to smell this cold air every morning.”

“This brandy is really good. Goes well with the smell of pines,” I said after another sip.

“There you go, kid. Feel where you are. Those woods stretch out for miles.”

Leonard took another deep drag and he stared at the horizon. The air was cold. The brandy warmed up my chest. The houses around us had turned on their lights. Nothing was going to happen until the morning.